Tonj East County, Warrap
2016 population projection: 77,086
Major population centers: The only sizable/”secondary” town in Tonj East is Ngabogok. It is connected by a road south the Thiet (and then Tonj) in Tonj South and north to Marial lou in Tonj North.
Major ethnic group: Rek Dinka, including Thiik, Luach Jang, Luach Koth, Akook, Jal Wou
Medium risk of food insecurity related displacement. Warrap State is not among the states most affected by the national conflict, nor does Tonj East County receive large number of displaced.
A recent UNHCR report states that more than 50,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Sudan since late January 2016 from neighboring Northern Bahr al Ghazal State and Warrap States. The exact county of origin is unclear. Refugees are largely driven by ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity, the result of poor harvests, restricted trade, depreciating currency and steeply rising staple food prices.
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County
Economy & livelihoods
Part of the western flood plains, Tonj East’s main economic activities are raising livestock (48 percent), subsistence farming (44 percent), and some fishing (8 percent) (2009 IOM State report). Planting is conducted during the rainy season, though some cultivation also occurs during summer. The main crops are sorghum, simsim, millet, groundnut peas, okra and pumpkin. The economic use of the cattle herds is limited, as meat as well as production of diary products is not common. Yet, culturally, cattle are highly valued and play an important role in the society and are a sign of wealth.
The border between Warrap, Lake and Unity States is an area rich in grazing land and water points. Swampy plains form a permeable natural geographic boundary between different Dinka communities in Warrap and Lakes States and with Nuer in Unity State. While ideal for cattle herding, the landscape is very difficult to transverse by road. Most towns are more than 50 km away, across difficult terrain, leaving the border grazing areas remote and making Tonj East one of the least developed counties in Warrap State.
Pastoralists throughout Tonj East – and, pastoralists from Tonj South County to Abyei in the north to Lakes and Unity States in the east – migrate during the dry season, in search of water in various parts of the northeastern and eastern Warrap State. Intercommunal conflicts and cattle raiding along the county borders have made Tonj East a volatile site of seasonal disputes and recurring insecurity. In addition, seasonal floods periodically destroy local cultivation.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
In December, IPC updated its previous projection of “stressed” food security for Tonj East to “crisis.” The food security crisis is caused by disrupted trade (due to localized insecurity) and reduced crop harvests after prolonged dry spells throughout the country (contrary to the September 2015 forecasts).
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA/M
Tonj East’s primary conflict drivers concern competition over water, cattle raiding, and the high prevalence of small arms in the area. Warrap and Lake States have held several peace reconciliation meetings in recent years, seeking to improve understanding and communication between border communities and to decrease cattle raiding. In March 2013, three county commissioners – from Tonj East, Rumbek North, and Cueibet – agreed to share water resources without condition among their pastoralist communities and granted permission for pastoralists to graze cattle in the others’ areas.
However, reports of violent cattle raidingattacks and intercommunal clashes in Tonj East, Tonj North, and Lake States continue. Most recently, in October 2015, a reported 92 people were killed in clashes in Tonj East. The cause of the clash remains unclear, with state and local officials providing conflicting accounts. Local officials explain the violence as a raid on Warabyei Cattle Camp within Thiik community territory. Citizens in the Thiik community have said that over 12 villages in the area had been attacked and burnt by Luanyjang raiders, with the suspected support of Agaar pastoralists from Lakes State. Others claimed the violence might be linked the new county commissioner’s controversial failure to “accept reception” at Lith Lol, a designated place for reception of government officials at the border of the two communities. The state government has dispatched more security forces to the area in an attempt to contain the situation. In Jan 2015, the new governor of the newly declared “Tonj State” (a part of Warrap) declared that reconciling and uniting feuding communities in Tonj East (and elsewhere) will be a top priority.
Geography & logistics
Makuac, Ananatak, Paweng, Wunlit, Paliang, Palal
The River Tonj continues north from Tonj South, through Tonj East to Tonj North and Unity State the River Bahr el Ghazal.
A secondary road passes through Ngabogok, north to Marial lou (Tonj North County) and south through Thiet to Tonj (Tonj South Country). Road access to Yonj East generally is very difficult during the rainy season (June – November).
All season fixed-wing airstrips
None. The closest fixed wing airfields is Marial lou (Tonj North County, Warrap State). There is also an airfield in Wau (Western Bahr el Ghazal), and an operations hub in Rumbek (Lakes State).
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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